Sarawak General Hospital. File Photo.

KUCHING: Nurses, particularly those assigned to Covid-19 patients at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), are fighting hard to stay at work despite being exhausted by the long working hours.

They are working 12-hour shifts (7pm to 7am and 7am to 7pm).

Throughout their shift, they cannot even go to the toilet to ease themselves. They have to wear pampers as they are not allowed to remove their gowns and other protective gears while on duty.

The nurses also have to be away from their families for weeks to avoid contacts with them. After work, they have to stay at their places of quarantine.

They are thankful for WhatsApp which enables them to have video calls with their family members.

“I miss my children so much. I can’t go home to hug them. I have to follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) to avoid the spread of the deadly virus.

“When I am off duty, I can only chat with them through video from my quarantine place.

“Only God understands how we all feel while at work and after work,” said a nurse who had a four-year-old toddler at home.

While at work, the nurses have to be careful not to contaminate themselves or others on the job.

Hence, they have suggested their working hours be reduced to five or six hours.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, in responding to the nurses’ plight and suggestions, thanked them and asked for their understanding.

“We thank our nurses for working extraordinary time. There must be reasons why worldwide, they all work a 12-hour shift.

“They know why and this is extra ordinary time. We need extraordinary effort. Ask the staff nurses and they definitely know why,” said Dr Sim when asked why the nurses were required to work 12 hours each shift.

The minister also explained that currently after a week of working, they would take a week off.

He added that the hospital would start testing them after each week.

Dr Sim also said that it was crucial to immediately stop the spread of Covid-19. 

“If we cannot control Covid-19 in the small of time window left, we will go down the path of Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and USA.”